Pesticides

.. f a scare over the pesticide, Alar. Ten years later, the Federal Government posed “that the U.S. food supply is the safest in the world.” (Burros, 14) In response, a representative of the Consumer Union group disagreed and stated, “that in a majority of cases, domestic produce had more, or more toxic, pesticide residues than imported produce.” (Burros, 14) Consumer reports (published by the Consumer Union) is swaying to agree with “60 Minutes” unproven report, questioning the toxicity tolerance in the pesticides used on some of the fruits and vegetables consumed. “It’s not about fear of food .. its about giving people information to make smart choices” Edward Groth, director of technical policy and public service for Consumers Unions, stated to the New York Times.

This is not the first publication that has set off a scare in the pesticide industry; a book by the name of “Silent Spring” introduced the world to the ups and downs of pesticides. Although the book opened the worlds eye’s to the hazardous effects of pesticides, the matter is still unresolved. As an aide to consumers, the National Resources Defense Council has summaries containing just the chemical classes of pesticides. (A classified list of pesticides, in which each major class of pesticides is subdivided into chemical classes.) But is it the consumer’s responsibility to research what the health-based standard whichever crop is, before putting them in their mouths? Well according to the 1958 bill, the Delaney Clause, yes it was. Growers had no obligation to report the levels of pesticide residues left on crops, to the consumer.

According to the 1996 bill, The Food Quality Protection Act, the EPA must prepare an annual list of pesticides that fail to meet the “zero risk” standard. Additionally, they must supply grocery stores with a report of crops in which these pesticides were used and display this information to consumers. The New York Times advised to peel your produce or buy organically grown fruits and vegetables. Some scientist advice only to eat organically grown fruit while other scientist advises not to fear produce. What is a consumer to do? “Every day, scientists learn more about the health threats posed by pesticides.” (Reigart, Line 9) The concern at most, is with the health factors that pesticides may impose in our internal systems. For instance, a child’s immune system develops at a rapid rate, in comparison to an adult, therefore a child’s exposure to pesticides would be far greater. “It is now well established that relatively low low-level exposures to toxic chemicals, occurring at critical stages of development, can cause permanent damage ..

the results of these injuries may range from poor school performance and behavior to alteration of the reproductive organs.” (Reigart, Line 40) With the passing of The Food Quality Protection Act, carcinogenic pesticides will no longer be utilized in the agricultural industry. Several researches and articles I have come across recommend some type of “pesticide tracking system”. With a tracking system, determining if a pesticide is cancer causing would be based on reliable and valid data, not estimated figures. Furthermore, a tracking system would provide accurate data for cancer maps, researches, and studies. We can agree the 1996 bill has strictly redefined pesticide regulations.

Where pesticides are no longer classified by category of chemicals, but rather what chemicals are in each pesticide. The government is now funding research studies in universities to assist the EPA in its re-registration process. The EPA’s re-registration process will retest all 208 pesticides to determine if they are carcinogenic. This type of project will incorporate independent researches as well as projects to produce cancer maps of the U.S. water reservoirs.

In 1998, the government funded the “National Water Quality Assessment Pesticide Synthesis Project” to research any agricultural lands surrounding water areas (i.e. streams, rivers, and ground water) and produce cancer maps. Cancer maps exhibit which waters are fouled and cancerous due to pesticides, industrial chemicals, and other factors. These maps should indicate if any of the 208 pesticides used in the United States are carcinogenic and have contaminated the U.S. water reservoirs due to the floating pesticides or pesticide spills. For instance, Sacramento’s Highway 99 closed for several hours due to a pesticide spill on a February day earlier this year.

The Sacramento Bee reported it as an accident and a clean up. The Bee did not report what techniques were used to clean up the spill or how long after the spill did the clean up take place. If wind can carry pesticides when they are applied to crops, what is to say that wind or rain can not carry pesticides away in a spill. The data for the maps were provided by the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP). The problem with the data is, until the early 90’s there were minimal standards for researching, testing, or approving agricultural pesticides.

The data the maps were based on are only a few years old. In fact, the cancer maps are based on a four-year spread, 1990 – 1993 and 1995 (no data was available for 1994). The data was collected through solicitation from state to state. In return the states provided estimates on cropland and not on non-cropland, such as non-commercial pesticide usage. The 1992 Census of Agriculture Report noted, “for some states there were no published surveys or expert opinions from field specialists .. pesticide use profiles were assumed to be the same as an adjacent state”.

The report further concluded the data was sufficient “in spite of the limitations .. the data would provide a useful overview of the regional patterns of pesticide use based on distributions of crops and the associated intensity of use by compound”. With the Food Quality Protection Act, projects now have a standard for researching, testing, or approving agricultural pesticides. Many organizations have dedicated efforts in regulating the use of pesticides. This paper has defined the term pesticide, and identified possible health effects which carcinogenic pesticides induce in the human body.

This paper has differentiated the many organizations and laws that regulate pesticides. Last but not least, this paper has also introduced the many ways the EPA, and other assisting organizations efforts to preserve a strict regulation of pesticide usage. Environmental Issues.